( Ógra Shinn Féin Education and Training seminar
Camloch, South Armagh was the venue last weekend for Ógra Shinn Féin's Education
and Training seminar. Over 50 Ógra organisers from all over the country participated in
workshops and practical sessions on all aspects of campaigning.
The purpose of the event was
to provide those charged with organising within their local areas the skills required to help build
and activate the republican structures throughout the country. As the newly elected Six-County
organiser for Ógra, Seán Pól Begley said:
``Young republicans must be central in all aspects of the struggle. We recognise that if we are to
play a real part in the development of our party, then we must take leadership. In order for us to do
this effectively, we have employed a training and education programme for our activists. This is aimed
at providing ourselves with the skills necessary to become an integral aspect of Sinn Féin's
development. Last weekend's seminar was a part of this programme.'
A television team from Belgium travelled to Camloch to witness the events. They are talking with
young people from the UUP, SDLP and Sinn Féin to compile a number of documentaries on youth and
politics in Ireland. They were happy to admit that the Ógra Shinn Féin organisation was
impressive and indeed unique, as the careerist agenda prevalent in other youth wings is substituted in
Ógra with dedication and team work that must be the envy of other parties.
One of those who talked to the journalists was young local woman Orla Murphy from Cullyhana, who
attempted to explain to a crew who were obviously learning by the minute the motivation of those
``The conflict in Ireland was never about religion despite what conservative observors would like
people to believe. Our struggle is about the right of Irish people to determine their own destiny. In
a way, what we are doing this weekend is a small symbol of republican resistance because we are here
to empower ourselves with education just as previous generations have empowered themselves.''
Local Assembly member Pat McNamee was at the conference on Saturday to provide those in attendance
with a political update and to hear the concerns and views of the Ógra members. The issues of
policing and the lack of demilitarisation were to the fore in the debate, with activists also
discussing education and the drugs culture that now exists among many of their peers.
Saturday night saw Ógra Shinn Féin do what they do best - enjoy themselves and have a
bit of craic, where they were joined by many republicans from South Armagh in Genie Macs pub in
On Sunday, the Ógra contingent, joined by local Sinn Féin members, made their way up
to the British Army base on Camloch mountain. There, they confronted British soldiers and RUC members.
After a protest that lasted a little over an hour, the weary revolutionaries assembled in the Sinn
Féin office in the village before going home to catch up on much needed sleep. Before they
left, National Organiser Matt Carthy told them:
``All those who travelled here this weekend are a credit to our organisation. What we have proven
here is that the only people who will empower young republicans are ourselves. This weekend, we
highlighted all the things that make Ógra Shinn Féin different. We can educate ourselves
- we can enjoy ourselves while doing this and when we have a message we will bring it onto the
streets, or indeed the mountains, of our country as we did today.
``Over the last few months, people would have been forgiving for thinking that Ógra was
going through a difficult period. This weekend was the beginning of the rebuilding of our youth wing.
We couldn't have asked for better.''